Provisional road collision statistics for 2019 show deaths resulting from road traffic collisions have increased, according to Gardai and the RSA.
A total of 148 people lost their lives in 2019, compared to 142 in 2018, a 4% rise. 2018 was the safest recorded year on Irish roads.
Up to 1pm on the 31 December 2019 a total of 148 people died on Ireland’s roads as a result of 137 fatal crashes, compared to 142 lives lost in 135 fatal crashes in 2018.
The figures were published by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) following an analysis of provisional fatal collision reports by An Garda Síochána.
Casualty figures for 2019 show that while there has been a sharp drop in pedestrian deaths, down 15 or 36%, and passenger deaths, down 4 or 20%, there has been a worrying increase in the number of drivers killed, up 25 or 45%, compared to 2018.
While there was one more motorcyclist death recorded in 2019 compared to 2018 (16 versus 15) an overall analysis of vulnerable road user (VRU) casualties shows that there was a 23% reduction in VRU fatalities.
Assistant Commissioner Dave Sheehan said: "Roads policing will remain a strategic priority for An Garda Síochána in 2020. Furthermore, two significant developments will happen to ensure that high levels of visible, effective road safety enforcement is achieved.
"Firstly, an additional 180 Gardaí have been selected to be assigned to roads policing duties in early 2020. Secondly, the roll out of the new mobility app will be stepped up so that by the end of 2020 there will be in excess of 4,000 devices in the hands of front line Gardaí.
"The new mobility app will revolutionise the way roads policing is carried out in this country. Both additional front line Garda resources and the greater enforcement capability of the mobility app will increase enforcement activity and help in reversing this year’s increase and achieving the road safety target.”
Mr. Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport said: "Firstly I want to express my deepest condolences to the families of those who have died on Ireland’s roads in 2019, and not forgetting the many hundreds who have suffered serious injury. The only way to respond to these needless deaths and injuries on our roads is through action not words.
"While families and friends grieve the loss of their loved one, we must as a society all respond with deeds, to prevent it happening to others. This means the Government and its agencies continuing to implement life saving measures contained in the Road Safety Strategy.
"It also means individually, as ordinary road users, that we need to take greater responsibility for our actions when using the road. We can do this by slowing down, not driving while impaired through drink, drugs or fatigue, by not driving while using a phone, by wearing a seatbelt and always sharing the road more carefully with pedestrians and cyclists.”
Ms. Liz O’Donnell, Chairperson, RSA, said: "After recording the safest year on our roads in 2018 it is deeply saddening that not only have we lost 148 lives on the road in 2019, but that it represents an increase in road deaths. We must respond to this increase the same way we have responded to previous setbacks.
"Rather than being disheartened it should spur us and our road safety partners into renewed effort. 2020 is also the final year of the Government’s eight year road safety strategy. Its primary target is to reduce deaths to 124 or fewer by the end of 2020. Deeper collaboration between all agencies responsible for road safety is already taking place to ensure everything that can be done is being done, not only to reverse the increase in deaths this year, but to achieve the strategy target.
"And it is a target that is very achievable, put simply it means saving two more lives a month, every month next year. Something we should all work together to do in 2020."
Ms. Moyagh Murdock, CEO of the Road Safety Authority said: "The provisional road casualty report for 2019 points to an increase in the number of driver deaths in 2019. For 2020 we will ensure that our education and awareness plans target the main killer behaviours and that this is integrated into the Garda roads policing plans.
"In particular we will prioritise the non- wearing of seatbelts and intoxicated driving through alcohol or drugs. We will also focus on promoting the safety of vulnerable road users. Specifically by raising awareness of the new safe overtaking of cyclists law, focusing on motorcycle safety and commissioning a new pedestrian safety campaign.”
She added that: "Another priority area for us in 2020 is learner drivers. We will continue to support garda enforcement of unaccompanied driving laws. In 2019 there were over 2,500 vehicles seized that were being driven by unaccompanied learner drivers. We will continue to target those who have been relying long-term on a learner permit. Driving test waiting times have never been lower with average waiting times of less than six weeks. Furthermore, we are hopeful that the package of measures, designed to end such practice and which are currently with the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport, will be introduced in 2020.”